Character building for kids
What is character?
Good character, we recognize it when we see it, we also notice when it is missing. Good character is made up of all the good traits we think make us a better human being including work ethic, humility and empathy but it is also much more. Character defines who we are. It is our personal brand, demonstrated in what we do, how we do it, and why we do it. It is not difficult for us to understand what good character looks like, but how do we instill these traits in our children?
All parents want their children to have the best education at a good school with strong values and a wide variety of opportunities. But your child’s character cannot be developed through schooling alone. Good character qualities develop through interactions with families, schools, and communities, and the child's individual disposition, experiences, and choices. No matter how busy you are, there are many opportunities in your daily life to help your children build character. We have gathered the following few tips to help bring you the joy and satisfaction that comes with seeing your child grow into an individual of outstanding character.
Parents who have strong guiding values often convey these to their children every day via their choices and actions. When parents live their values, be it kindness to others, contribution to society or pure and simple hard work, children unconsciously pick up on them. Children notice that you bring joy to yourself and others and get a sense of satisfaction from your efforts. These guiding principles, such as eating dinner at the table every night, bring peace to your family life and teach children that they can rely on your values to stay true. Children will also pick up on the consequences of not following these principles through the consequences of their actions, being reprimanded and even through your own unhappiness when you don’t act in accordance to your values.
Creating an environment of trust
Empathy is one of the most important factors in the parent-child relationship. A child’s intrinsic need to feel safe and understood must be met in order to have their attention and cooperation. Only once these basic needs are met, we can begin to teach our children good values. This applies to teachers also and any other adult who comes into contact with your child. When children know that adults care about them, they trust their intentions and become much more receptive to the behavior of that adult. More often than not, when children “act up” or misbehave, it is due to lack of empathy. It is important to connect with children first, to make them feel safe, loved and understood in order to impart lessons of good character.
Lessons in mistakes
Discipline strategies can also help build children’s character. When you correct a child’s behavior, it is important to explain to them why their action was wrong, including the underlying value that they have dishonored. If they already know better, it is likely they are acting out of frustration. While we commonly label this ‘attention seeking’ as a negative trait, it is often a result of their deeper needs such as feelings of love and empathy not being met. As adults it is important for us to understand when disciplining children that a child may have an inability to regulate their own behavior until these important needs are met. When children upset their peers, one simple value you can teach is to apologize. When confronting somebody that they are upset, children will learn to take ownership of their actions and learn that sometimes an apology is enough, but other times, further action may be needed to right the wrong that has been done. Through apologizing and being apologized to, children will also learn the concept of forgiveness, another good character trait.
The importance of reading your child story books cannot be understated when it comes to teaching your children core values. The same is true for stories you tell them from your own experience. Make time to talk to your children about your own experiences and theirs. Using adult language and treating them as a mature individual in these discussions will encourage them to talk about challenges they are facing and build trust between you. You can also talk about stories that they heard in the news or from other children. Being able to discuss these events with a parent allows children to check what they heard against family values and determine the best course of action to take. You should also be mindful of your children listening to you speaking with adults. What you talk about teaches them your guiding values. For example, if you often indulge in gossiping, they will see this as an acceptable form of communication with others and are likely to seek out the same type of conversations.
Learning through experiences
To help your child understand and build good character one important thing to do is to broaden their range of experiences. You can do this by having your children involved in social and community activities, sports teams or cultural clubs or you can teach them to find joy in volunteering and doing good deeds for others. Or you can enroll your children in the WorldTrainer China youth academy. At WorldTrainer your children will not only have a chance to learn English, gain fitness and form great health habits, even better, your child will learn social skills in an international, cross-cultural community, giving them a chance to build a strong, character traits for life-long success.